Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare shares his statement following the guilty verdict determined earlier today for the manslaughter charge in the killing of Barbara Kentner, a First Nation woman residing in Thunder Bay, Ont., in 2017.
“While this verdict will never bring back Barbara, and may not bring much comfort for all those who continue to be deeply impacted by her loss, this guilty verdict is recognizing that she lost her life at the hands of racism,” states Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “This verdict is a small glimmer of hope that if we all continue to seek justice for these inhumane, undignified acts of violence rooted in racism in a united effort with our brothers, sisters and allies across Turtle Island, that one day they may come to an end and our next seven generations will live in a safer world.”
On January 29, 2017, Barbara Kentner, was struck in the lower abdomen by a trailer hitch thrown from a moving vehicle while she and her sister were walking in a residential neighbourhood in Thunder Bay. The assailant was heard yelling from the vehicle, “Oh, I got one”, after throwing the hitch at the sisters. Days shortly after the incident, Thunder Bay Police Service arrested an 18-year-old man, Brayden Bushby, and charged him with aggravated assault.
Following surgery and extensive medical care and despite her tremendous efforts, she did not recover from her injuries and died on July 4, 2017. After her death, the charges were upgraded to second-degree murder; however, in September 2020, the charge was downgraded to the first charge of manslaughter and a second charge of aggravated assault. Bushby had a four-day trial in early November this year where he plead guilty to aggravated assault and not guilty to manslaughter.
This tragedy is one example of many that is common for Indigenous people in the Thunder Bay area and Indigenous people throughout the province to experience. Violent crimes accompanied by racial slurs or implications are considered hate crimes. Despite this guilty verdict, the leniencies and inadequacies in charges laid in the justice system in response to violence against Indigenous women and girls are linked to The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice on tougher sentencing and harmful institutional-based policies and practices.
“Leadership, communities, and technicians at the Anishinabek Nation have been continuously advocating ending systemic racism and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls,” says Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “And we will continue to relentlessly advocate on behalf of our people; requesting federal and provincial Members of Parliament who are in positions to make changes to do their part to address the systemic and overt racism that plague all of the institutions across the territory. We unceasingly demand that the Prime Minister of Canada along with the Premiers in every Province act decisively to truly put an end to this.”
Sentencing hearing for Brayden Bushby is scheduled for February 9, 2021.
The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.